The Rose Garden

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Chapter Two

Freshers Week was a blur, a mostly drunken one. A blur of drinking, partying, signing up to societies, more drinking and partying. During a rare sober moment, she went to an interview for a waitressing job twenty minutes away from her flat. Pleased with her success at the interview, she went back to her dorm and partied some more with her new friends.

The week after Freshers she woke up with a splitting headache, the effect of the drinks finally catching up to her. Cassie rarely had hangovers; the girl barely drank enough to even get tipsy, get alone get drunk entirely and so this hangover was the mother of all hangovers. She spent the day before classes started throwing up into the toilet, everyone else in her flat doing the same thing. Well, almost everyone.

Taylor Hampton was not hungover and she was extremely smug about it. Infuriatingly so. In the week that Cassie had been there, she had crossed paths and already clashed with the girl; she had been walking out of the kitchen when someone bumped into her, making her spill her freshly made mug of tea all over the pair of them.

Cassie cursed loudly as the scalding tea covered her, frowning and glancing up at the unidentified person with a scowl.

“Watch where you’re freaking going!” The young woman screamed and Cassie eyes widened comically.

“Excuse me?! Watch where I’m going?!” She screeched. “You’re the one who bumped into me, you cow!” Cassie snapped and the other girl looked shocked and offended.

“Yeah, whatever. Just watch where you’re going next time, prat. Maybe you should get glasses.” She retorted before storming off. It may not have been the most creative of insults, certainly but it had certainly done it’s work; Cassie had met her arch-nemesis. That one incident started off a chain reaction of events that would eventually result in a vicious hatred between the two women.

Cassie’s phone rang and she groaned, grabbing it off the sink, her head still hanging over the toilet bowl as she answered it.

“HEY LITTLE SIS, HOW’S FRESHERS GOING?” William’s voice blared out of the speaker straight into Cassie’s ear and she gave a loud moan as her head pounded at the loud noise.

“Could you please not shout like that?” She groaned and she scowled as she could hear William chuckling on the other end of the phone.

“Awh, does little Cassie have a hangover?” He questioned and she glared at the phone, before remembering that he couldn’t see her. She could almost see the smirk on his face.

“Yes, she does, and if you keep talking then I will hurt you.” Cassie warned but William just laughed.

“Yeah, sure. Let me know how you plan to do that from Manchester, the very top of the country. How’s the accent there, by the way? Can you understand them?”

Cassie couldn’t help but roll her eyes. “The accent is fine, William. It’s not that hard to understand really.”

“What about the people in your flat? Have you checked out the campus yet? What about the bars around? Have you got a job yet?” The questions came quick and fast and Cassie realised quite how much she’d missed talking to her brother. They were on the phone for nearly two hours, Cassie occasionally pausing to throw up whatever was left of her stomach into the toilet. William was torn between laughing at her misfortune and asking her constantly if she was alright. After finally getting off the phone to her brother and having a shower, Cassie felt much better and realised that, despite having her first lecture tomorrow, she didn’t have any of the materials she would need, (except the textbooks of course.) She didn’t even have a pen.

“Nathan, I need to go into town. Do you want to come?” She asked, speaking to him through the door. It hadn’t taken her long to get ready, not even bothering to get dressed up nice; she was barely even wearing make-up, just concealer and powder and a pale eyeshadow.

“Yeah, I’m coming!” His voice replied, opening the door a few minutes later. Considering that he too had been throwing up, he looked better than Cassie did. Dressed in a slim-fitting shirt with skinny jeans and boots, his hair was pushed to the side, his foundation covered his face nicely and Cassie could just about notice the hint of eyeliner on his waterline.

“How do you look so good?” Cassie lamented and Nathan just flicked his fringe to the side, grinning.

“I’m just that fabulous!” He cried, putting his hands on his chest in a dramatic fashion, pretending to flick a scarf around his neck and Cassie howled with laughter at Nathan’s antics.

“Come on, you drama queen. I’ve got school supplies to buy.”

They ended up buying a lot more than just school supplies; Cassie returned with new clothes, a desktop clock, scented candles, and what looked like an entire stationery shop as well as a new CD. Nathan had bought designer foundation, blusher, eyeliner and a pale lipgloss; his stationery collection consisted of one folder, two pens and an old highlighter from A-Levels.

“I can’t believe you spent more money on your make-up than on your school supplies.” Cassie commented, with a fond smile and Nathan shrugged.

“What can I say? I have my priorities in the right place.” He argued and Cassie rolled her eyes.

“More like you’ve got your priorities backwards.” She retorted with a smirk.
Cassie and Nathan had only met a week ago, but they’d clicked immediately. Nathan was sweet; maybe a little dopey but Cassie knew that his heart was in the right place. He was also incredibly camp but he’d already stated that he wasn’t gay. Not to Cassie specifically, as she hadn’t mentioned anything at all but to Taylor, who’d asked him. She hadn’t been rude or nasty about it but Cassie just thought that it was more reason to dislike her; which Nathan found hilarious. He couldn’t understand how Cassie had already clashed and made an enemy. They hadn’t even been there a fortnight yet! But then Nathan was a people person; he could talk to anyone, no matter who they were, where they were or what was going on. The world could end, the apocalypse could arrive and Nathan would still be there, chatting away to the remaining survivors. The same with aliens; he could get abducted and he would still be there, chatting away to them, asking them about their own home planet. Cassie theorized that if anything like that did happen, the aliens would return him because he wouldn’t shut up.

She told him as much and he howled with laughter. Cassie didn’t understand why that was funny; or rather why it was that funny.

“I did actually have a dream once where I was kidnapped and I talked that much that the kidnappers brought me back!” Nathan explained and Cassie rolled her eyes, understanding now why he found it so hilarious.

Cassie was rather the opposite to Nathan; whereas he was loud, outgoing and could talk to anyone and everyone, she was a little bit more reserved. She’d rather keep to herself and keep herself company than surround herself with loads of people. Yes, she could talk to people but she always kept it casual and she was known to distance herself and separate herself from everyone, except for a select few. She’d had it pointed out to her time and time again, by her brother, her friends, even her ex-girlfriend Elizabeth. Cassie knew that they were right but she wasn’t a people person; she didn’t like to surround herself with them and so preferred to just hang out with a few select people that she liked. Or she preferred to be alone but sometimes that did get lonely if she did it for too long. She’d clicked immediately with Nathan, which for her was unusual but Cassie reckoned that it was less to do with her and more to do with Nathan. He had, for lack of a better term, an aura which just attracted people to him; he was funny, and loud, and easy-going, and extremely friendly. Cassie was certain that he didn’t have a nasty or rude bone is his body; unlike her. She could be rude, and sarcastic (and not in the funny way) and a downright bitch at times when she wanted to be. The incident with Taylor was just the tip of the iceberg for Cassie; she could’ve said and done a lot worse if she so chose to. No wonder my parents aren’t proud of me, she thought as they walked back to the dorms, laden down with bags.

Cassie hadn’t eaten properly in days - she was starving. Her and Nathan had gotten back about an hour ago, and after organising and reorganising her bag for her first lecture tomorrow, as well as putting away the rest of the things she’d bought, someone had started cooking in the kitchen and the smell was wafting down the corridor, into her room. She tried to think back on what she’d eaten over the past few days but she couldn’t recall eating anything substantial - just a lot of chocolate bars, biscuits and maybe the odd bowl of cereal the morning after a light night out.

She made her way out of her room, heading curiously and cautiously into the kitchen, getting ready to leave if it was Taylor. A quick look inside showed that it wasn’t; it was Annette, taking a steaming lasagna out of the oven. She turned around at the door opening, smiling widely as she saw Cassie.

“Hey Cassandra. I’ve barely spoken to you since last week.” She murmured as the red-head smiled and headed over to the fridge, grabbing a chocolate bar from her specific shelf. Annette shook her head, going over to the girl and taking it out of her hand.

“Cassandra, what have you eaten in the past few days?” She demanded and Cassie frowned, eyeing her chocolate bar.

“Yeah, no. You are going to sit with me and eat a proper meal. I hope you like lasagna.” Cassie frowned as Annette placed the chocolate bar back into the fridge and pushed her towards the table. She couldn’t even protest, she was in shock that much.

“Now, how much lasagna would you like?” Annette didn’t even wait for her to answer before a plate of lasagna was placed in front of her, Annette placing hers on the opposite side of the table. After getting them cutlery, she sat down, not hesitating to dig in. Cassie paused for a second before doing the same, tentatively trying the lasagna. It was the first proper thing she’d eaten in days and Cassie finally took note of how hungry she was; she couldn’t help but moan as the cheese melted in her mouth, the meat and sauce and pasta mixing together to create a cacophony of tastes that exploded in her mouth. Annette smirked.

“Do you do this with everyone?” Cassie questioned after a few minutes of silent eating and Annette glanced up at her, eyebrows raised slightly in confusion. “Make them eat with you, if you know they haven’t been.” Cassie frowned, head tilting slightly to the side. “How did you know?” Annette gave a shrug.

“If I think they look hungry. I haven’t had to do it with Nathan or Taylor,” she ignored the look of disgust on Cassie’s face, “as they remember to feed themselves. I have had to do it with Stephanie though. Took me forever to tear her away from her telescope.” Annette commented and Cassie raised an eyebrow.

“Telescope?” She questioned and Annette nodded.

“Yeah. Stephanie’s studying physics. You didn’t know?” Cassie shook her head. Annette gave another shrug. “Well, maybe if you left your room when you’re sober, then you’d know that.” She pointed out; there was no anger or accusation in her voice but Cassie gaped. She hadn’t expected this sweet, talkative girl to say something like that.

“I have left my room whilst sober!” Cassie argued and Annette raised an eyebrow.

“Okay. You’ve left your room but not to talk to us. You’ve been gone most of the time; in fact the only time anyone has crossed paths with you is when you get food.” Cassie had stopped gaping at the girl and her face was starting to harden, finding her comments to be out of line. Annette paused as she sighed, realising what she’d been saying. “I’m not having a go at you.” She murmured. “I’m just saying that maybe you should stop isolating yourself.”

“I haven’t been.” Cassie tried to argue but Annette just looked at her.

“Talking to Nathan doesn’t count. That’s only one person. Hang out with me or Stephanie.” Cassie noticed how she specifically didn’t mention Taylor. “You never know, you might even like us.” Annette teased and Cassie couldn’t help but smile, as she took the empty plates and began to wash up. It was a rule in the Winters household; those who cook do not wash. Her and Annette spoke for the rest of the night, Nathan joining them later on and Cassie realised how much she enjoyed the young woman’s company. Maybe she should stop isolating herself…

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